Awkward Goodbyes and Empty Promises
The walk back to Percy's apartment was excruciatingly silent.
Neither of them spoke as they walked, both of them too caught up in their own thoughts to actually engage in a conversation. It was mid-morning and all around them people were hurrying, each person stuck in their own little world. Percy found it interesting how everyone was always so focused in their own lives that they rarely took time to actually notice what was happening in the world around them.
Annabeth walked besides him, her hands were tucked into her sweatshirt, her brows were scrunched together and she seemed to be mumbling somethings to herself. Most of her hair had fallen our of her ponytail and was falling down the side of her face.
"Are you okay?" He asked quietly, and he wasn't sure she'd even heard him.
She didn't respond and he tried again.
"Annabeth?" He asked this time a little louder.
"Beth!" He said loudly this time and she stopped in her tracks.
"What?" She snapped at him.
Her eyes looked up and she looked around disoriented, like she had forgotten where she was for a split second. She shook her head absent-mindedly and softened her tone.
"What, what is it?" She asked again.
This was Percy's moment to study her. Her eyes seemed wild, and unfocused and she was gripping the sleeves of her sweatshirt.
"I just asked if you were okay?" He said, he wasn't mad at her for snapping, just distraught.
"Yeah I'm fine. Now c'mon, let's go." She said looking at him.
Percy would've believed her, he usually did, but she hesitated. She hesitated before answering him, and if there was one thing Percy had learned over the years about Annabeth, it was that she never hesitated, ever. Which meant she was lying to him.
She wasn't fine and he knew it. She was avoiding him, and biting her nails, and gripping her sweater, and getting distracted too easily, and getting scared in the middle of the day and she wasn't fine. But he couldn't just outright tell her this, because the truth was that he knew he most definitely wasn't one to judge.
"Annabeth, wait! I'm trying to help, you know you can tell me if something were wrong, right? You can tell me anything." He said, but she just kept looking ahead.
"I told you I'm fine." Her steps quickened.
Percy jogged up behind her trying to catch up.
"Slow down, I was just making sure!" He said as he tried to grab her by the arm.
As he grasped, he felt her flinch beneath his grip, and quickly let go.
"Sorry." He apologized, staring at her and she just looked away.
"It's fine, everything is fine just stop asking! I don't need your help." She said quietly and continued walking.
That shut him up. He followed her, staring at the cars and people that passed them by. Everything was wrong, Percy could feel it in his bones. What happened to us?, he thought to himself as he realized just how quickly Annabeth was slipping through his fingers.
"DO YOU HAVE ANY IDEA HOW WORRIED WE'VE BEEN?" Was the first thing Percy heard as he opened the door to his apartment, with Annabeth standing behind him.
There are only a few things in this world that are more embarrassing than having your mother yell at you for coming home late, and one of them is having your mother yell at you for coming home late in front of your girlfriend.
"Mom, I can explain!" He tried saying as he closed the door behind him and Annabeth, but he knew he wasn't going to be able to talk himself out of this one.
"Yeah, you better! Gods, Perseus Jackson, what in hell's name were you thinking? At what point did you think disappearing without telling us anything was a good idea, huh? Specially after what happened last time!" She kept ranting.
He knew she was right, but he'd stopped listening. He deserved it. He deserved to have her yell at him and ground him and tell him how irresponsible he was, but he wasn't in the mood to hear any of it in the moment. Not after his argument with Annabeth, who just so happened to be standing next to him and hadn't met his gaze since the conversation on the way there.
He noticed Paul wasn't there, Percy assumed he'd left for work, since classes were supposed to start in about two weeks or so. His mom kept ranting, and Percy just kept quiet. He was thinking about Annabeth who wouldn't even look at him these days, and his mom who was standing there yelling at him, and everyone else he'd let down in the course of the last couple of weeks and how he knew he was barely hanging on.
"I'm sorry... I'm sorry..." He mumbled, but no one seemed to hear him.
He wanted to reach for Annabeth's hand in that moment, but he didn't. What if she pulled away, or ignored it, of it just made her flinch again? He didn't want to risk making things with Annabeth any worse, so instead he just crossed his arms over his chest, almost as if he were holding himself together.
"Percy, are you listening to me?" His mother complained and he immediately looked at her.
"Hm... Yeah, I am, sorry..." Lie. "Look, I didn't mean for any of this to happen, I..." He started but he was cut off short by his mother's hug.
He was a good couple of inches taller than her, so he bent down a little so her head could rest on his shoulder.
"Just don't disappear on me like that again Percy. I can't lose my son, not again..." She whispered to him and he could hear her voice crack.
He wanted to say something and comfort her, but he couldn't. His own voice was stuck in his throat, so instead he just nodded. His mother let go, wiped her cheek and turned her attention towards Annabeth.
"Sorry about the yelling, Annabeth. Can I get you anything? Some coffee, maybe?" His mom said to the girl, who was leaning against the door staring at them, her eyes narrowed in concentration.
Percy wondered what she was thinking now. When Sally spoke, she looked up almost immediately and shook her head.
"No, thank you Mrs. Jackson, I just wanted to make sure Percy got here and apologize for not calling you, but I should really start heading back." She said, and smiled sweetly at the older woman.
"Oh nonsense, call me Sally, and are you sure you don't want to stay any longer, just because this one over here is grounded, doesn't mean you cant stick around." Sally said gesturing at Percy, who gave her a small smile.
"I'm sure, thanks anyways Sally." The mother nodded before giving the girl a small hug.
"Then at least let me call you a cab, okay?" She said to the blonde, who nodded in response.
"I'll walk you to the elevator." Percy said, and together the walked out the door.
"Well at least she didn't seem that mad." Annabeth said as they waited for the elevator.
"Yeah... I think she was a little more preoccupied with the fact that we were together the entire night, than anything else." He said and she arched her brow.
"Why? It's not like we haven't been together on missions before." Annabeth said and Percy gave her one of his famous troublemaker smiles.
"That's not what I meant..." He said and Annabeth's eyes widened.
"Oh. Okay, now I get what you mean, and Oh gods, that was awkward!" Annabeth covered her face with her hands and Percy laughed.
"Don't even get me started on that, I'm dreading the moment Paul steps in through that door and decides it's time we have another one of his 'man talks'!" He complained and Annabeth laughed.
She shook her head, and the elevator doors opened. Her laughing stopped and she turned around to face him.
"Bye, Percy." She said softly and have him a small smile before entering the elevator.
"Bye, Annabeth..." He said, and watched as the elevator doors closed in front of him, leaving him alone again with his thoughts.